If you've been to the city's website recently, you may have left with a cramp in your clicking finger. The site has come under criticism from the people most likely to use it, namely Mayor Kathy Chiaverotti, who said it takes too long to find what you're looking for.
The Mayor's Taskforce on Communication was established shortly after Chiaverotti took office, in part to review the site, and came to the Finance Committee meeting on Tuesday to reveal their initial recommendations. Their findings echoed the mayor's concerns.
"In surveying staff at the city, we found that 80 percent felt there were significant weaknesses in the website, and many felt there was a general consistency lacking and difficulty in finding content," Cassandra Wurster, a member of the task force explained to the committee.
The task force recommended a redesign of the site that would allow users to locate "just about anything within three clicks." She said there would also be benefits to city services like the parks department in having online registration and payment for programs, and payment of utilities and taxes. A calendar of events was also a recommendation to put the public in closer contact with what is happening in the city on any given day.
The group cited the website for the city of New Berlin as a near-ideal example of how Muskego's site could function. Wurster said the site is more user-driven in its presentation of information, including a 'How do I?' button that allows the visitor to find information by asking a question.
John Wisniewski, who is the city's IT director, also cited that there have been security issues in the past and an upgrade would address those issues. "In June of 2009 we had experienced someone who hacked the website, and fool us once, we had another problem with our pages becoming unresponsive. As it turned out a hacker had placed malicious code on the site. So we are dealing with this website's vulnerability."
Wisniewski did clarify that no loss of data or breach of records information was experienced in either case.
The recommendation from the task force would be to hire Civic Plus, which Wisniewski said has built many transparent websites for government in other communities. The cost is estimated at $31,000 with yearly maintenance of $4,000 to $5,000, which includes free updates and redesigns. While the finance committee did not make any decisions Tuesday, they will need to have a signed contract with Civic Plus by April 30 if they are to realize a $5,000 savings on the start up costs.
The committee will make a decison once the taskforce has made a formal proposal and recommendation, perhaps as early as their first meeting in April.